A relationship is an agreement between two or more selves, people, or groups. This agreement can either be established consciously and voluntarily at a specific point of time, explicitly or implicitly – such as an employment contract or a friendship – or it can become part of our life from before we can make sense of its nature – such as between parent and infant and with family members.
Any form of relationship is a delicate balance between the opinions of every individual involved within it and the collective emotions of the relationship consisting of their shared communication and expectations.
We are human, subjective beings with subjective experiences, and our brain responses are prone to biases, regardless of our intentions. Feeling and “being right” in this space, has more to do with the complex string of emotions we feel than merely being correct. To understand and untangle this highly personal experience requires us to step outside ourselves and make space for the relationship. It is within a relationship where “being” unfolds. What we do to self-advocate, make requests and make decisions together, or being, that makes us right.
As busy individuals experiencing snapshots of time with each other, we can only know so much about one another, and more importantly, we can only process it in actual time, along with all of the other daily responsibilities, pressures and distractions we must live with. This all makes it hard to get to the deeper parts of the relationship.
Further, in moments of conflicting opinions and feelings, this absence of deeper knowing in a relationship, along with the taxing influence of our beliefs and bias, can have a major impact on how we resolve a disagreement.
The power dynamics involved in a relationship can also have an impact on our expectation of the outcome of a conflict in the relationship. It becomes less about the issue itself – which is often about facts, events,objects,individuals, and big emotions – and more about how we react to our own interpretations of the issue and our big emotions and reactions.
As a result, we end up reacting to our trigger points. Our trigger points are those memories, situations, people and things that spark negative intense emotions. These triggers can frame how we process our words, body language, mood, and the tone of our actions. When we are triggered we might hear a phrase correctly, but glean its meaning inaccurately. How we respond to this then changes how the other person receives our body language and communication and how they give back.
It’s a tricky cycle that all of us – in spite of our experience and intentions – can be susceptible to getting caught up in.
A good question to ask here is, “Am I wrong if I am not right?” Another helpful question is, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to have peace?” And finally, another key question is, “Is it more important for me to be right, or for me to be in relationship with those that matter to me?”
Prioritising the relationship over being right helps mitigate the negative outcomes of our conflicts, and it brings an added layer of intentionality that acts as a guardrail for us. It helps us to avoid further descent into uncomfortable conversation and unintentional hurt.
What this means to our work at Transform Together
To prioritise a relationship is to respect it. Prioritisation says, “Even though I may not agree with you right now, I do see you and think that you belong, despite our differences.” In our work with clients, we consistently look for ways to connect in a meaningful way because we believe in the power of relationship. While being right does feel good, being in a good relationship feels even better.